Bishop James W. Hood, of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, in his day one of the most influential men of color in the United States, found himself also in the political world.
He began as a preacher in Nova Scotia in 1860, served later at Bridgeport, Connecticut, and then went to North Carolina, where his successful work exalted him to the bishopric in 1872.
His very going to North Carolina, however, had a political setting. He went to New Bern as a missionary under General Butler's invitation to the churches to send missionaries, even while the place was under the fire of the Confederate forces.
When the war in that area was cleared up and Reconstruction was undertaken, Bishop Hood was among the first to participate therein.
He was elected president of the convention of Negroes assembled at Raleigh in October, 1865, one of the first, if not the first, political convocation of this sort ever assembled in the South.
On this occasion he so fearlessly advocated equal rights for the Negro that he was warned by the people around that his life would be in danger, if he did not desist therefrom.
In 1867 he was elected as delegate to the constitutional convention of North Carolina, in which he took such an active part in framing the fundamental law, incorporating into it such liberal provisions for homesteads and public schools, that it was spoken of by the reactionaries as Hood's constitution until it was amended in 1875.
He served as a magistrate under the provisional government in North Carolina and later became a deputy Collector of Internal Revenue for the United States.
In 1868 he was appointed an agent of the State Board of Education and Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction, receiving a salary of $1,500 a year; but he did not abandon his church work, having built up a large congregation at Charlotte during the three years he served in these positions.
He traveled also in the interest of the Freedmen's Bureau in the capacity of an Assistant Superintendent. Thus in a position to help his people, Bishop Hood had in 1870 as many as 49,000 Negro children in school.
He had established for Negroes a department for the deaf, dumb, and blind and had about sixty inmates under care and instruction at the expense of the State.
He hoped to establish a State university, but the undoing of Reconstruction prevented him from reaching that end.
He was named in 1872 by the Republican caucus as their candidate for Secretary of State, but he declined the honor. He served that year as delegate at large to the National Republican Convention, which nominated Grant the second time.
In 1876 he was chosen temporary chairman of the Republican State Convention, which he served with much satisfaction.
The Church In The Southern Black Community
The Beginning History of Livingstone College
NC History of Bishop James W. Hood
Return To Piney Grove Home Page